You Play, I Watch: Video Game Playthroughs

July 26, 2015 § Leave a comment

I first started writing this post two years ago when I was actually going through this phase. Back then, video game playthroughs (also called Let’s Plays) were niche. Nowadays, Pewdiepie is practically a household name, Twitch sold for $1 billion and the phenomenon even got its own South Park episode. What a time to be alive.

Why would you spend your time watching someone else play a video game? is the resounding question from the confused masses. Back in 2013, I told a friend about my newfound pastime and he unflinchingly called me a loser. LOL.

My main reasons were usually a combination of:
1. no money
2. no time
3. no skills/too lazy

But the bottom line is, once you find a YouTube personality that you like, it’s simply entertaining to watch his or her playthroughs. (I don’t watch the ones without narration.) Since I already watched other vloggers on YouTube, it was a natural leap to combine that kind of casual, friendly familiarity with a love of video games. For me, it only works for certain games that have a story worth watching, but with the right narrator, the experience can be just as fun or engrossing as a good movie. And all for free!

Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness

Two years ago, Pokémon XD was inadvertently the first playthrough I watched. I already subscribed to TheJWittz‘s channel and the series caught my interest because I had started but never finished the game myself. This can wholly be blamed on Yawen’s brother, who back in the day somehow managed to delete everything on our Gamecube memory card, thus wiping all my progress. I was too distraught (and lazy) to play through it again.

It was interesting to see the game played from someone else’s perspective and compare JWittz’s battle style with mine. More important, it opened my eyes to the world of playthroughs — no longer did I have to be deprived of experiencing games old or new just because I didn’t own the right console or couldn’t finish a game.

Unfortunately, JWittz got sidetracked by the Pokémon World Championships and Pokémon Rumble U (which I found dull), so he stopped uploading XD videos.


Weeks later on a particularly boring weeknight, I found myself lying around the apartment and looking up lists of the best recent indie games so I could check them out. I decided on Journey, a beautiful game that I never would’ve been able to play myself because I don’t own a PS3. It’s a short game, and the whole thing lasted about the length of a movie.

I liked GhostRobo’s upbeat narration. He seemed just as amazed with the gorgeous landscapes as I was; it was like we were journeying together!

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Indoor Fun in Ithaca: Campus, Mall & Karaoke

July 18, 2015 § Leave a comment

ithaca mural

Pretty mural in a downtown parking garage

Even though I didn’t do any of the driving to Ithaca, I was exhausted by the time we arrived. So after a quick walk around the Cornell University campus and lunch in Collegetown, we headed back to the hotel for a much-needed nap. (I was so tired I almost didn’t make survive the walk back.)

It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a real college campus, and Cornell is so different from Mizzou because of all the hills! Dragging myself to class as an undergrad was hard enough without having to walk uphill on the way there, haha.

ithaca church

cornell crypt

We wandered into Cornell’s Sage Chapel, which is much bigger inside than it looks on the outside. The friendly guy working there (he did not seem to be a priest or pastor) showed us to the crypt and introduced us to the three people buried in elaborate coffins above ground and even more people buried underground, the entrance to which is covered with a rug. Apparently during weddings at the chapel, brides use this space as a changing room. Creepy?

uris lib

study room

At the Uris Library, J showed me the room where he sometimes studied. So posh!


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Eating in Ithaca

July 15, 2015 § 2 Comments

Unlike most of our other trips, this one was not very food-centric. Usually we take great pleasure in scouting out the best places to eat, but the restaurant scene in Ithaca is kind of lackluster, especially compared to how much produce is grown in the region. I guess everyone is too busy growing great food instead of cooking it?!

That said, we did have a few delicious bites.

Best Breakfast

The Saturday Farmer’s Market is one of J’s favorite places in town. We got there right as it opened on a rainy morning, and the place was already buzzing with vendors and customers.

ithaca farmers market

famers market produce

chopping boards

farmers market berries

Crazy-looking mushroom!

Crazy-looking mushroom

pie stand

Our first bite of the day was an irresistible little black raspberry pie (apparently they’re different from blackberries idk). It was so delicious and fresh!!! And only a dollar!

When I took the picture of the pie stand, the woman behind the table asked me if the photo was going in the New York Times LOL! I was like haha I wish, lady…it’s just going on my blog :|

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Exploring Ithaca: Greenery & Waterfalls

July 12, 2015 § 2 Comments


I’ve been told that for a while, Ithaca had no July 4 celebration. Now that they’ve brought it back, they decided to celebrate with fireworks on Wednesday, July 1 (concurrent with Canada Day — coincidence?) instead of the actual holiday, a Saturday.

There seems to be no explanation, no think pieces, just a shrug. “That’s Ithaca.”

All this is to say that while visiting Ithaca over Independence Day weekend, J and I did not happen to catch any fireworks. But whatever: It wasn’t a dealbreaker. The main selling point in Ithaca is its beautiful landscape. There are so many waterfalls around town that we didn’t even manage to see all of them!

It had been raining in Ithaca the week before we arrived, but we were blessed with beautiful sunshine (and gushing falls) our first two days in town. All that water means lots of bridges.

Bridge or bird aviary?

Bridge or bird aviary?

Nowadays, all the bridges around Cornell have netting below or around them, but apparently when J was attending law school here, they didn’t have any of that at all. Imagine this bridge without ANY of the chain link stuff! It’d be so easy to fall (or jump) off!

bridge water

I’m afraid of heights, so even looking down at the rushing water through the safety netting was kind of scary.

After resting up on Thursday afternoon, we headed to Cornell Plantations, a fairly large swath of land devoted to environmental conservation and education. (Translation: It’s the perfect place for a picnic!)


On the way, we drove through this funny tunnel and I imagined we were going to the Shire to see some hobbits. Once there, we took a leisurely walk around the pond and saw a TON of big tadpoles hanging out in the pond vegetation. They’re kind of cute and creepy looking at the same time? I don’t have anything against frogs but I still shudder when I think about having to dissect one in eighth grade #necrophobic

cornell plantations

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Thoughts of a Former Yelp Elite

June 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

I didn’t start using Yelp until I moved to New York. I remember sitting in my aunt’s living room (I stayed with their family in New Jersey for a month before starting grad school at NYU), watching the Food Network (my parents don’t have cable at home) and excitedly Yelping and bookmarking all the restaurants I wanted to visit once I lived in the city.

I don’t think the whole Elite Squad thing was even on my radar in the beginning. Only one person I knew IRL was Elite as far as I knew, and she lived in Atlanta and was merely an acquaintance.

I used Yelp to remember where and what I had eaten. (My friend Justin claims to be able to store all that information in his brain, but I can do no such feat.) I blog as a way of recording my memories, so Yelping was a natural extension of my writing.

yelp profile

I no longer have the actual email, but I remember the feeling of elation and validation when I got the invitation a few months later to join the Elite Squad ‘13. (I think I replied with something along the lines of “This is the best day ever!!!!!!”)

By then, I had written about 80 reviews and was on track to do about 100 by the end of 2012. I wrote 100+ more the following year and attended five or so Elite events.

At my first event in March 2013, I brought my friend Sarah, and we reveled in the free booze and finger food being passed out on big trays, endlessly coming from the kitchen. There was music and a ton of other young people, and we were in a gorgeous restaurant with an awesome view of the water.

At some point during the event, we were befriended by a white guy I’ll call…Seth. (I use the passive voice because, really, he was the one making all the effort.) He was our age and seemed fun, if a little persistent, and somehow we all exchanged phone numbers (Sarah and I were both tipsy). Seth is quite a character in the Yelp Elite scene; he’s tight with Ruggy, our Community Manager (AKA Elite Squad Overlord) and just knows a lot of other Yelpers. I’ll get back to him later.

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Vegas Day 3: Mariah Carey at Caesars Palace

June 4, 2015 § 2 Comments

The day we landed in Las Vegas, my friend Lucy told me that Mariah had canceled her Wednesday show due to bronchitis. Whether she really had bronchitis was up for speculation by everyone (I preferred to just believe), but we were mostly concerned about her Saturday show — that was the whole reason we were in town!

Fortunately, by the time the weekend rolled around, we hadn’t heard any bad news. So we started our day with a carefree exploration of downtown Las Vegas. Brunch = smoothies from some health joint called Grass Roots. I was just thirsty and wanted something fruity and hydrating, but these kinds of places always have weird ingredients and very thick textures. My aloe cucumber smoothie was adequate.


Then over to Container Park, where we had ventured last time (and enjoyed the fiery mantis contraption). This time we just stopped by the toy store, where I couldn’t resist buying a bunch of cute Rilakkuma notebooks and molesting the Pusheen display.

View from outside

View from outside

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Vegas Day 2: Rock in Rio

May 20, 2015 § 2 Comments

rir hed

As I mentioned in my last post, our reason for visiting Las Vegas was to see Mariah Carey perform. But when J was booking our hotel, the rooms were unusually scarce and expensive; further research revealed that there was a music festival in town that same weekend: Rock in Rio.

We had never heard of it before, but after perusing the lineup, we figured that we might as well attend, so we bought VIP passes for Friday.

The festival didn’t start until 3 p.m., so we began our day with a bountiful breakfast at the Encore’s Society Cafe.

On all of the in-room TVs, you can watch the Wynn Resort channel, which is a loop of Steve Wynn taking you on a tour of all the hotel’s amenities and restaurants. He goes on and on about certain restaurants (such as his beloved Andrea’s, named for his second wife), but all Society gets is a throwaway line about its fish and chips :'( Poor Society…it’s not even a British restaurant!

Anyway, I like Society because unlike most other casino restaurants, it’s quite bright inside (and beautifully decorated of course). Plus the food is good!

society pancakes

The place was hopping for breakfast — we barely beat the line. I ordered the Huckleberry Soufflé Pancakes, which took an extra 10-15 minutes to cook and were these decadent two-inch-thick cakes that were dense and delicious. Oh myyy.

When you go to Vegas in May, you expect the weather to be at least slightly scorching. To my dismay, Friday’s temperatures didn’t even cross the 70-degree mark, so I wasn’t able to skank it up for my first-ever music festival. Sad. Instead, after breakfast, we headed over to the Fashion Show mall next door to buy me some warm clothes because I hadn’t brought any!

The mall is simply massive. It just keeps going on and on, an endless walk of typical mall stores. On our way to Lululemon, we walked by an empty runway with a live band rehearsing at one end. I stopped to take a picture, and so did three other Asians walking nearby LOL. It’s an Asian thing……..?!

fashion show

By the time we made our way back, the show had begun, and a whole extra room had materialized out of the ground, leaving the band stranded on its roof!

From within this mysterious room strutted a team of models and dancers. We were mystified. I wanted so badly for this random show to be part of the upcoming season of America’s Next Top Model, but I knew that they rarely (or never?) travel to domestic destinations outside of New York.

Fashion Show (the mall, not the event) had its phone number listed on signs scattered throughout its halls, inviting customers to text with any questions. So I did just that.

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